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WAKE UP!

Out Of Focus

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really.

If you ever read Asbjornssen's Cosmic Dreams at Play, you will know how high esteem he holds this band. His article finishes this way: WHAT AN AWESOME GROUP THEY WERE! I cannot say it any better as the three albums they made in their prime were all drastically different from each other yet so unmistakably OOF (much like Floyd did all of their albums so different, yet all so FLOYD). Their music is absolutely theirs and sound like nothing else and although they are Germans, I hesitate to call it Krautrock or as some call it Krautjazz. They develop a strange mix of psyched-out rock with a good sense of jazz rock (although not quite as much in this debut album), add a good dose of flute/sax dominated prog rock and give themselves a maximum space for instrumental interplay even if Moran's voice holds an important role (and is an acquired taste in the same way that Peter Hammill or Roger Chapman are an acquired taste) with some non-sensical lyrics laying out their hippy ideals. With an abstract artwork this debut album (released on the legendary Kuckuck label) is aptly named Wake Up, even if the goal is to send you into dreamy trip, the music is raw, just the way the Germans liked it, reminiscent of their crosstown colleagues of Amon Duul II.

Right from the first repetitive note of Drechsler's guitar, soon underlined by Herring's organ and Moran Neumuller's flute, in the opening White Negro, you just know you're flying in a wonderful universe where time seems to be a very random dimension and the dreamy soundscapes are an invitation to tripping around the universe. The tougher-sounding God Save The Queen is more of rougher guitar-lead early 70's UK proto-prog ala EBB or BechKendel, but the middle section (recorded a bit too low) shared between the folky flute and the organ is a great counter-point using the full dynamics contrasting with the return of the opening section. Hey John is an almost 10-min wild flute-lead jam that can sound like Deep Purple's Mandrake Root in the middle.

The flipside jumps at your throat with the short but powerful No Name track that could easily be called You're Wasting Time, and even if there are obvious flaws in recording levels, this track is most likely to also claim the album's title, Wake Up! World's end is a fairly doomy track that still trails a bit of 60's into it, sometimes reminding of Floyd (Herring's organ and Spori's drumming sound like early Floyd circa Saucerful Of Secrets), while Moran's flute is more reminiscent of Traffic's Chris Wood and the guitar reminding us a bit of Krieger in The Doors' epic track The End. Ending the album is the lengthy Dark Darker track, which is a bit disjointed in its psyched-out moods especially Moran's flute racing up and down the ladder of sanity. This is one track where the group shows an excellent aptitude at light improvisation that lead to wild jamming, a thing that we would see much more of in the next three albums. Again the raw sound gives the impression that this record could've easily been recorded live in the Anglo-Saxon world, with only the approximate accent of Moran giving a hint otherwise. The closing section is a hard-driving Atomic Rooster-like heavy prog.

As with most German band singing in English, the vocals are not perfect but this is very minor as the texts (lyrics) are easily understood and are of a very social/political nature that they could also be classified in German only category Polit-rock (never thought you'd read about such a category, Uh? ;-) This IMHO only adds to the quality of the music and does not make it dated just for that reason. Technically absolutely brilliant (D-E A + HCH). Just by the weird song titles, one can see that this band is heavy, I mean HHHEEEAAAVVVYYY , man !!

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#30594)
Posted Thursday, June 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I use to know this band already since my earliest teenage years since the're coming from Munich which is very close to my hometown. But it was just recently that I rediscovered them and bought their second album. Now thanks to Jimbo I've got as well their first one and what a great album was this already. I just can tell anyone who likes early 70's Psyche Rock with excellent flute, guitar, Hammond and some sax he should try to get it.

Compared to their second one it's quite different actually, here the jazz-rock influence is much minor and it's mainly dominated by the awesome flute which is even not listed here in the line-up I just see. The album opens with See how a white negro flies which is already a great psychedelic rock song, Hammond, flute and a driving guitar combined with excellent drumming, first highlight! God saved the queen, cried Jesus reminds me a bit of EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND, especially by the vocals, great song as well and again the flute is the most evident instrument at least in the more quiet middle part. Hey John has a great section with Hammond drums followed by a flute solo, marvellous! This one is as well my favorite one, but really just one highlight amongst a full bunch of. Like for example World's End with excellent guitar and Hammond, great groovy stuff with some part reminding a bit to JIM MORRISON. In a later part we can enjoy again some wonderful flute play. Last song Dark, Darker is as well an excellent one with lots of flute and a quite heavy final part.

CONCLUSION I just can tell that OUT OF FOCUS's debut is an excellent album full of highlights and would highly recommend it to all fans of flute-dominated early 70's Prog. It deserves absolutely very well 4 stars!

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#37712)
Posted Sunday, June 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 3.5 stars

I bought last week the 2004 digitally remastered edition of this album, by Second Life Records. The original version was released by Kuckuck Records in 1970.

The music is a blend of classic 60's rock, a bit of psychedelic characteristics, some hard rock touches and folk rock (mainly due to the flute part). The musicians play fairly good, but nothing too extraordinary, leaving the music itself to speak for them. The flute, guitar riffs and the Hammond organ are, to me, the highlight in this record. Oh, and the song titles are amusing as well.

The album begins with a cool guitar riff that is immediately joined by drums and hammond organ that starts playing at first dissonant chords and then goes back "on track". A nice flute part is added and the guitar goes on with its riffs giving the track its main force. The hammond part is brought forth in this edition and you can appreciate it very well. At about ~2 min. Neumüller sings a few lines and draws back to give back the stage to the instruments. I love the crunchy sounding guitar here and the Hammond as well. This is an excellent song, giving all the instruments the chance to "express" themselves, without ever being dragged into pointless jamming around. The second song is a little more laid back with a more vocals in it. This is more of a "regular" song like track, with a middle part in which the flute gives a nice solo part. It is a laid back middle section, giving the flute place to breathe but I think it is not fulfilled as it should have been. "Hey John" starts calmly with the flute leading and a beautiful rhythm part accompanying it. The song moves between the vocals part singing with the instruments toning down and then switching to the flute which takes the lead accompanied by all the band members on their instruments. The music is beautiful in this one. Too bad the accompanying hammond isn't as loud in this track. It is only clearly heard when it takes the lead role at ~5:30 min. This song is perhaps not very original in its structure and musical ideas, but it is nonetheless very good. "No Name" has a silly like attitude. But the music is entertaining as are the vocals and lyrics and it is lighter in spirit than the rest of the album. World's End is a nice song that reminds me a bit of Doors' songs like The End or When The Music's over in terms of the concept of the song, not because it resembles the music itself. There is repeating musical line and the constant instruments playing around it, changing from loudly to softly playing. "Dark, Darker" is more psychedelic in nature with some great flute playing. The flute goes berserk here a bit.

It is a shame this band is not more known, since I think they do not fall short of other bands in the same ballpark and they released 4 good solid albums. For people who love the 60's rock sound, who love good songs that incorporate flute, hammond and squeaking guitars - this album is a very good choice. A very good addition to any prog music collection, perhaps not essential but very enjoyable.

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Send comments to avestin (BETA) | Report this review (#76692)
Posted Sunday, April 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars After reading two or three reviews, or should I say "all of it", and being interested by firmly stated opinion that German band Out of Focus is absolutely worth a listen, I found this record, and must say, was pleasantly surprised. I expected something that someone called Krautrock, someone called jazz-rock, but oh no, none of those. It's simply good psychedelic rock.

If information on back sleeve is correct, album is recorded in only 7 days, on two sessions, what is really amazing, for unknown band, and for music like this. It's album that You can listen to many, many times not to became enough of it. But that is the point where I would slightly disagree with others reviewers, because I think that it is not a sign of it's extraordinary music quality, but of band's extraordinary improvisational skills, resulting in good and original debut album, longer then average record of that time. Like many bands that wanted to part from standard rock idiom, choice of keyboards and especially flute was good decision, and overall feel on album is like on some live recording from Fillmores, Winterland or London's Paris theatre, and no one would guess they are Germans (alright, the accent again).

After first, strong rock song, comes two longer pieces, that together with last song on album, all have nice dreamy flute passages in the middle, as a pattern, between harder sounding leading and ending parts. Occasional, but very unique singing are often word by word, mostly sharing the same melody as other instruments. There is reminiscent of some other bands, but nowhere too much to say they sounded closely to them. In "World's End" there is the same song structure as in "The End" from The Doors. But if someone tries to pull out improvisation parts from the songs, the remaining parts will be hard recognized as basic songs, and this is the problem with the short "No Name" that sounded somehow unfinished.

So, the performance is good, but my rate of record is neither excellent nor essential. Having not "half a star" as more precise rate to raise it a little, I think three stars is quite acceptable measure. There are other albums with similar sound and feel, so if You missed this one, it's nothing to worry about. But if You buy it, don't worry, You won't be sorry.

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Send comments to cedo (BETA) | Report this review (#80700)
Posted Thursday, June 08, 2006 | Review Permalink
philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Content Development & Krautrock Team
4 stars Amazing kraut-jazz alien that is completely devoted to ferocious rocking jams. In an explosive combination of sounds, the band conciliates heavily bluesy guitars, free folk and propulsive organs. "See how a white negro flies" is a great introduction track for tripped out psychedelic guitars, including nice keyboard arrangements and stoned pop voice, a very efficient, energetic composition. "God save the Queen, cried Jesus" follows the same musical schema, for a super dynamic hybrid. "Hey John" is a calmer improvisation with some enchanting flute lines and a good rhythmical section. "No name" goes back to a heavy acid rocking trip but it is not so surprising. "World's end" is an other explosive kraut-jazz standard, featuring a nice groove. A lot of varieties and gorgeously psychedelic, sonic infiltrations! Simply brilliant!

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Send comments to philippe (BETA) | Report this review (#126996)
Posted Thursday, June 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars What do you get if you cross Jethro Tull with Pink Floyd and take away the Blues influence : Out Of Focus! Wake Up is the first 1969 record of this lesser known German band. It starts of nicely with good riffing and guitar, bass, flute, drum interplay, but steps down when sax & flute player Moran Neumüller starts to sing. Apart from singing out of (focus) tune, pardon the pun, his voice is an aquired taste. The second track is quite similar to the first and after a while I miss some interesting melodic material instead of endless riffing, while Moran's vocals tends more to be theatrical and acclamatory then real singing. The vocals are ment to be provocative against Church, War, Capitalism...late 60's protest style, but sound a little dated. Most of the tracks are quite long and I got really bored towards the end of the record, mainly by the absence of melodies and the on-going neither rock nor jazz rhythmic that tends to get monotonous. It's nevertheless an original record for this time, but doesn't stand the comparaison with outstanding 1970 records from the jazz-rock and psychedelic field.

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Send comments to Alucard (BETA) | Report this review (#164274)
Posted Wednesday, March 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 4.5 stars. These guys really had a sense of humour even if it was in bad taste at times(haha). The vocalist is tremedous,and quite theatrical at times. The sound on this their debut is psychedelic and heavy with the jazz flavour coming in later albums.

"See How A White Negro Flies" has a repetitive guitar line as organ then flute come in. Vocals 2 minutes in are brief. This sounds great ! Raw guitar solo goes on and on as drums pound away. Organ and flute are back. Vocals too 5 minutes in. "God Save The Queen, Cried Jesus" opens with flute and drums before vocals and guitar join in. Silly lyrics as the vocalist really performs. Low end guitar 2 minutes in is fantastic. Bass joins in before a calm arrives with flute leading the way softly. Vocals don't return until 6 minutes in. "Hey John" features some beautiful flute melodies. Vocals after 2 minutes with a fuller sound a minute later. Love the guitar 4 minutes in as they jam for a while. Organ after 5 minutes with some excellent bass lines a minute later. Flute is back. Guitar after 8 minutes is again just a joy to listen to.This has to be my favourite song and not because my name's in the title. No it's not ! "No Name Hmmm" is more uptempo with flute and drums leading the way until vocals come in. I like how passionately he sings. The guitar's tone is perfect. It comes and goes. Organ solo 1 1/2 minutes in. This is the shortest song at 3 minutes. Some fuzz in that guitar that comes in before 2 1/2 minutes.

"World's End" has a pastoral intro with flute. A fuller sound arrives a minute in. Vocals follow as organ and drums shine. Guitar 3 minutes in is atmospheric and it goes on until stopping 5 minutes in when spoken vocals take over. The lyrics here are political as he talks about then U.S. president Richard Nixon as the band jams. Lots of flute to follow before it gets heavier 8 1/2 minutes in. Vocals end it. "Dark,Darker" opens with ominous flute as a SABBATH-like mood takes over. Vocals follow. This is contrasted with a more uplifting passage. The contrast continues. A change 2 1/2 minutes in as flute,bass and light drums come in. This builds then relaxes again. A vocal melody before 6 minutes. Flute then goes crazy(same with the background vocals) before becoming dissonant then calming down again. It stays pastoral until after 9 minutes when the intensity returns.

Just a killer album ! The flute, organ, guitar and vocals are all outstanding. Love the sound of this one a lot.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#168547)
Posted Thursday, April 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Very interesting debut album of German band. Differently from many their kraut-rock colleagues, band's music is strongly based in British blues-rock and psychedelic rock tradition, with folksy elements. In fact, their music could be described as heavy bluesy psychedelic Jethro Tull.

They have flautist on board, and flute soloing adds to music very folksy (or Jethro Tull-like) flavour. Other important components - heavy Hammond passages, psychedelic guitars and social-critical lyrics. Possibly, vocal is not for everyone taste, but it's ok for me.

Jazzy arrangements are presented, but in all album's music couldn't be named jazz-rock. I like their melodic compositions, organ passages, heavy guitars and a bit naive sound in whole. Nice atmosphere of early 70-s. Only some repetitive songs structure reminds their origin and some connection with krautrock.

My rating is 3+.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#293973)
Posted Tuesday, August 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars An album that has moments of success when it occasionally lifts itself from the confines of 1969-1971 Krautrock. That old curse of Germans singing in English emasculates any intensity the lyrics may have held and hangs around the neck of Moran Neumülle like an albatross.

It's derivative to the point of saturation and is in no way comparable with their mighty 'Four Letter Afternoon'. Worst of all are the vocals which might have sounded pretty good if sung in German. As it is, they're all a bit embarrassing in their American imitation. Plus the fact - the guy's a crumby singer.

It's clear for all to hear that they can really play together as a unit but unfortunately, 'Out of Focus' sound like a lot of bands from this era. 'Wake Up' is their most 'Rock' album and is dominated by flutes, but unfortunately It's not that good.

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Send comments to Dobermensch (BETA) | Report this review (#594412)
Posted Thursday, December 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
3 stars Legendary Kraut/Jazz Rock band from München.Out of Focus were found in late 68' by Remigius Drechsler (guitar), Hennes Hering (organ, piano), Moran Neumuller (sax, flute, vocals), Stephan Wisheu (bass) and Klaus Spoeri (drums).They took their name from a track by Blue Cheer and reputedly the band was discovered by Ihre Kinder's manager Jonas Porst.Engineered by Thomas Klemt, their debut album ''Wake up!'' was recorded between October and December 70' at Union Studios in München, released at the fall of the year on the Kuckuck label.

The strong jazzy vibes that followed Out of Focus throughout their career remain hidden in their first album, which was a typical Kraut Rock album with extended jamming parts and dominant psychedelic vibes.The ironic track titles, such as ''See how a White Negro flies'' or ''God save the Queen, cried Jesus'', were followed by long groovy music with tons of flutes and organs along with the electrified guitars of Drechsler.The album contains mostly long pieces with constantly changing themes between smooth, psychedelic lines with mellow flutes and guitars and pounding rhythms with a fiery rhythm section and sharper guitar solos.Some nice interplays and breaks are also present, while with a singer sounding quite similar to MICK JAGGER the psychedelic influences are even more prominent next to the very dirty organ themes at the improvised parts.The result is obviously quite charming, although some sterile and flat moments are still apparent performed by a young and inenxperienced group.

A nice example of early Kraut Rock with the basic components of the movement in evidence: Long psychedelic grooves, loose solos and powerful breaks.Warmly recommended.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#985332)
Posted Tuesday, June 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
Matti
COLLABORATOR
Neo-Prog Team
3 stars OUT OF FOCUS from Munich was one of the finest fusion-oriented prog - or jazzy Krautrock - bands in the early seventies' Germany. Wake Up! is their debut, and it shows. The production is a bit murky and the psychedelic orientation is strong. Later on they oriented more towards instrumental fusion, but here the sax/flute player Moran Neumüller sings perhaps more than would be suitable. He's not a very good vocalist, frankly. Imagine young Peter Hammill at his worst and the most monotonous. The guitar parts increase the bluesy, heavy-ish psychedelia. The group was surely influenced by the British blues- rock.

But the album reveals its originality and strength already on the second track 'God save the Queen, cried Jesus' with more meditative instrumental sections featuring flute. This mixing of blues flavour and flute passages naturally makes one think of early Jethro Tull, but the compositions and the moods are very different from Tull. The lyrics seem to be serious and socio-critical, and the atmosphere has some VdGG-reminding darkness. There are also lots of organ.

'Hey John' is a gorgeous 9½-minute track with great instrumentalism and some vocals. The shortest track 'No Name' is also the weakest in my opinion, vocal-centred and quite straight-forward, but with nice organ/flute work. 'World's End' has long instrumental sections, and this time the guitar steps up front to solo too. The last minutes remind a lot of 'The End' by The Doors, even a similar-sounding spoken part is featured. But then again, the flute sets the music apart from The Doors.

'Dark, Darker' (11:37) doesn't start very promisingly with the presence of vocals, but soon enough they change into flute playing - some Ian Anderson -style gasps included - and the band continues to go deeper into meditative quietness and alteration of dynamics. All in all, an album that's far from perfect but with an interesting, magical atmosphere and an original mixture of various, more or less familiar elements. The psychedelic flavours were to change into jazzier style and much better music was ahead.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#1127448)
Posted Wednesday, February 05, 2014 | Review Permalink

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